Fort Collins City Council temporarily bans retail marijuana

They said yes.

City council met Wednesday night to discuss retail marijuana regulations and how Amendment 64 will impact Fort Collins. The vote was unanimous to enact a temporary ban until March 31, 2014.

After Amendment 64 passed last November, in addition to legalizing the distribution of marijuana, cities in Colorado were given one of three ordinance options that will be enforced on Oct. 1 of this year.

Each city can decide to either ban all retail marijuana businesses, adopt regulations, or make a temporary ban and take action at another date.

“This is not something you rush into,” Mayor Karen Weitkunat said.

The ban may have passed without opposition, but the debate about the six month length of the ban raged on.

“I’m in support for expediting this process,” council member Lisa Poppaw said. “Voters have spoken.”

Bob Overbeck, council member, shared a similar response.

“I hope we can move this process, the voters voted on this ten months ago,” Overbeck said.

While Overbeck and Poppaw were of the opinion that it’s their responsibility to expedite regulations on the Amendment 64 proposition, not all council members shared that viewpoint.

“I think the voters have spoken and asked us to do exactly what we’re doing — deciding whether or not we want it to take place in our city, and that requires research and public outreach,” council member Gino Campana said, advocating the six month ban.

“I don’t really see how it can go much quicker,” council member Gerry Horak agreed.

“We’re not trying to slow this down,” city manager Darin Atteberry said. “We’re trying to have a process to give you the best possible regulations.”

A city council work session will be held on Nov. 12 in cooperation with CSU to better understand the public’s perception on retail marijuana.

According to Horak, this work session will allow the Fort Collins community to come and communicate their opinions to city council about the marijuana debate so they can make a better educated decision come March.

While the concern rests on the length of the retail ban on marijuana, other concerns also arose such as, distribution to minors, drug driving, taxes, current smoking ordinances and consumption on federal property.

“My concern is the drug getting in the hands of the under 21 population,” council member Wade Troxell said.

Still, the voters have spoken.

“They want it treated like alcohol,” council member for CSU’s district, Ross Cunniff said.

Despite this decision being ridden with extreme complexities, city council is establishing a working framework for regulations prior to its enactment because as it stands, the guidelines are unsatisfactory.

“The regulatory framework has shown to be incompetent, at this point,” Troxell said.

While there was disagreement through the night, city council members concluded that it’s better to take more time to discuss regulation options and do it right, than rush.

“This, significantly, will affect the branding of the city,” Campana said. “A little bit of time is not going to hurt anybody.”

Collegian Reporter Lawrence Lam can be reached at news@collegian.com